How to Build a Strong Team

WRITTEN BY: Aruba Ahmed, VP External, Muslim Students Association 2015-16

Being a student leader in the Muslim Students Association has brought many opportunities for learning and self development. The most profound experience, however, has been fostering growth through team empowerment and a bidirectional approach to learning and knowledge sharing. A good leader is never self made, because the success and unity of a team as a whole is what symbolizes the overarching dynamic of the organization. Here are 3 tips to cultivate a strong and cohesive team:

  1. Facilitate, not dominate
    As a leader, you are responsible for overseeing the different aspects of any project that the organization is working on. There are obviously many people and many roles involved in organizing and completing the task at hand, but the mistake I find that people most commonly make is misjudging when they need to step in and take the lead and when they need to hold back, observe and let go of the reign. The latter is so incredibly important for building confidence and self esteem for the other players on your team – it’s okay if people make mistakes, because the key (to success, as DJ Khaled might say) is to let people the space to understand the issues at hand at their own pace.
  1. Who is present at the decision making table?
    Student clubs are often multi-faceted and their scope usually expands larger than just one or two issues. They can range from cultural, social, political, economic, religious, etc., platforms. It only makes sense, then, to make sure that your team is as diverse in their backgrounds, experiences and perspectives as the issues you want to tackle. If there is no one who can adequately speak on an issue with confidence, it is better to ask for advice from an outside source to do justice to the event or program that is at hand.
  1. Keeping yourselves grounded and in-check
    Continuously center yourselves in the purposes and values of the club and the team. In the MSA, before any event or team meeting, one activity that we do to purify our motives and to remind ourselves of why we are in that space is intention renewal. It’s not uncommon for egos to flare up when working in a high calibre executive team and it’s surprisingly easy to feel bolstered by the success of recent campaigns and initiatives, whatever they may be. Appreciate your team members often and be sincere in your thoughts and actions because you are only as strong as the strength of your organization as a collective.

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